Book Review: The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida

Several people have recently recommended that I read this book, so I was eager to do so.  How this book was even written shows a great determination by Naoki to share his story.  The author can’t communicate verbally, but instead tapped out the words using an alphabet grid, where he points to the letters and spells out his answers.  This in and of itself is pretty incredible, but then he articulately describes what it’s like to be autistic.  It was a powerful read, but a couple of things really stuck with me.  He talks about how neurotypical people assume that people with autism want to be alone and by themselves, and it makes you think twice about your interactions with people who seem like they want to be by themselves.  He says:

“The truth is, we’d love to be with other people. But things never, ever go right, we end up getting used to being alone, without even noticing this is happening.  Whenever I overhear someone remark how much I prefer to be on my own, it makes me feel desperately lonely.  It’s as if they’re deliberately giving me the cold-shoulder treatment”.

The author of this book also mentions several times how powerful nature is to help him feel connected to the world.  Two quotes that stand out:

“However often we’re ignored and pushed away by other people, nature will always give us a good, big hug”

“Nature calms me down when I’m furious, and laughs with me when I’m happy”

I love the power nature has to be a support to him.  If you want to get an idea of what it is like to live with autism, pick up this book and prepare to be moved.


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